By JOHN DiSTASO, News Editor
(Wednesday, June 4)
CONCORD — A group of young conservative activists from throughout the country are set to visit New Hampshire tonight and tomorrow to begin a nationwide push to have the national Republican platform reflect what they view as a growing national acceptance of marriage equality.
New Hampshire is the first stop for the Young Conservatives for Freedom to Marry as it begins the push, which will also include the other early states in the presidential selection process – Iowa , South Carolina and Nevada.
“We have had a lot of success talking to College Republican groups and a lot of them have changed their issue statements and platforms on gay marriage,” Ed Lopez, national vice chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus and a leader in the Freedom to Marry movement, told the New Hampshire Journal today in an interview ahead of the visit.
“Now we are focusing on the state level. We’re looking to build the momentum along the way leading up to the Republican National Convention in 2016,” Lopez said.
The movement calls for changing the national Republican platform’s current language, which includes the statement, “marriage, the union of one man and one woman, must be upheld as the national standard.” That language was reaffirmed by resolutions passed by the RNC in the spring of 2013.
The New Hampshire Republican Party’s platform recognizes marriage as “the legal union between one man and one woman.”
In April of this year, the Young Conservatives for Freedom to Marry launched a $1 million “Reform the Platform” project under the auspices of Freedom to Marry Action, a 501c(4) organization.
As we reported several weeks ago (see earlier our report below), national supporters include GOP strategist Margaret Hoover as well as Abby Huntsman and Meghan McCain, both daughters of former GOP presidential candidates.
Lopez said the group will also ask the Republican Liberty Caucus to “embrace a statement” more accepting of marriage equality at its own convention in Portland, Maine, next year.
The New Hampshire kickoff will include six leaders of the movement from different states joining with local marriage equality leader Tyler Deaton. They will tour the state, Lopez said, meeting with party leaders and activists and several town committees.
“It will be a very, very long day on Thursday,” he said.
Deaton said that among the meetings will be a private gathering with some individual members of the state GOP leadership, “both elected and party officials.”
Lopez said that while he is involved in the Freedom to Marry movement as an individual and not in his capacity as vice chair of the RLC, he pointed out that those Republicans, such as RLC-oriented Republicans, who are “on the more libertarian side of the party believe that ideally, the government should stay out of marriage.
“But overall, as long as the government is involved in marriage, we believe it should be involved equitably,” Lopez said.
Lopez said the GOP is diverse on a variety of issues of both domestic and foreign policy and believes the GOP establishment is ready for a change on the marriage issue.
“This is where constituents want us to be on this issue,” he said.
(Our earlier report below, dated May 23, contains more details on the specific language the Young Conservatives for Freedom to Marry are proposing for the national Republican platform.)
CONCORD — New Hampshire is about to become “ground zero” in the kickoff of a national movement to reform the Republican National Committee platform by including new language supporting “thoughtful conversation” about same-sex marriage and striking any “anti-gay” language.
The Young Conservatives for Freedom to Marry also wants to strike what it views as “anti-gay” and “anti-freedom-to-marry” language from five sections of the RNC platform.
The group in April launched a $1 million the “Reform the Platform” project under the auspices of Freedom to Marry, Inc., a 501c(4) organization and Freedom to Marry Action, a 501c(3) group trying to rally Republicans to become more accepting of marriage equality.
National supporters include GOP strategist Margaret Hoover as well as Abby Huntsman and Meghan McCain, both daughters of prominent Republicans.
In April, New Hampshire’s Tyler Deaton, campaign manager for Young Conservatives for Freedom to Marry, said, “It’s time to modernize the Republican Party. Our aim is to make the national platform less divisive toward gay people and their families and more focused on unifying all conservatives around our core beliefs of freedom, family, and limited government.
“The future of the Party is clear on the marriage issue. A seismic shift is already underway in support of the freedom to marry,” Deaton said.
On June 5, more than a year and a half before the first-in-the-nation primary, the group will send a delegation to New Hampshire to meet with Republican activists, elected officials and the media. They will begin an effort to make the issue part of the debate in the 2016 Republican presidential primary campaign.
The group will include Jeri Henry, a Washington-based public affairs specialist ; Ed Lopez, National Vice Chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus; Liz Mair, who worked on Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign and for Gov. Rick Perry; Rek LeCounte, a conservative writer, and Craig Stowell, a veteran and co-chair of Standing up for New Hampshire Families.
New Hampshire is the first state to have legalized same-sex marriage without a court order or the threat of one. The Young Conservatives point out that in 2012, what was then a Republican-controlled New Hampshire House defeated a bill to repeal the state law.
The Republican National Committee platform, however, contains language that “that marriage, the union of one man and one woman must be upheld as the national standard.” That language was reaffirmed in resolutions passed by the RNC just more than a year ago.
(The New Hampshire Republican Party’s platform recognizes marriage “as the legal union between one man and one woman.”)
The Young Conservatives will also focus on other early primary and caucus states, but calls New Hampshire “ground zero on this issue” as a result of the defeat of the repeal effort in 2012.
The group points out that many college Republican groups and local GOP committees are dropping opposition to gay marriage “and some are even passing resolutions supporting the freedom to marry. The pressure is now on the national GOP to follow suit.” The group also says polling shows support for marriage equality is at its “highest level.”
Here is the new RNC platform language proposed by the Young Conservatives:
“We believe that marriage matters both as a religious institution and as a fundamental, personal freedom. Because marriage — rooted in love and lifelong commitment — is one of the foundations of civil society, as marriage thrives, so our nation thrives.
“We believe that the health of marriage nationwide directly affects the social and economic well-being of individuals and families, and that undermining families leads to more government costs and more government control over the lives of its citizens.
“Therefore, we believe in encouraging the strength and stability of all families. We recognize that there are diverse and sincerely held views on civil marriage within the Party, and that support for allowing same-sex couples the freedom to marry has grown substantially in our own Party. Given this journey that so many Americans, including Republicans, are on, we encourage and welcome a thoughtful conversation among Republicans about the meaning and importance of marriage, and commit our Party to respect for all families and fairness and freedom for all Americans.”